Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sleeping together

How is it that in adulthood you end up with less personal space than in childhood? I had my own room growing up, now all my stuff is crammed in cupboards that seem to get smaller and more overcrowded every year.

Sharing a bed is part of this grown up life. But a leading sleep researcher, Neil Stanley, says that we should consider the joys of sleeping apart. The British Science Festival heard suggestions that sleep is less likely to be disturbed when couples sleep in separate beds. It might feel as though sleeping together is more comfortable and reassuring, but apparently we end up wrecking each others' shut-eye.

It's interesting how the idea of living together has becomes so associated with sleeping together. Aristocrats in previous centuries would have had their own separate sleeping quarters, there was no assumption that his lordship and her ladyship would have to kip on the same pillow.

It was poor families in cramped houses that were forced to share beds. And sharing a bed didn't necessarily mean anything romantic. Large families were squashed into a single bed, strangers staying at inns might be expected to share a bed. Pepys records sharing a bed with friends who stayed over.

There were also pungent words to describe lots of people sharing a bed or a sleeping place together: "Pigging" and "Chumming."

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